The dreaded dress code has struck again. It seems these days that everywhere we turn, women and girls are being called out for violating the rules at school or at work.
The latest incident comes to us from the folks at JCPenny.
17 year old, Sylva Stoel, quit her job at the store last week when she was asked to go home and change. She was wearing red shorts that she had purchased in the 'career' section at JCPenny and yet, they were considered 'too revealing.'
Stoel took to Twitter to express her outrage and to raise important questions about whether or not dress code policies unfairly target women:
spoke to Stoel and she said, "I didn't expect it to happen, but I wasn't surprised – there's been a lot of talk about unfair dress codes affecting women, and it was in the back of my mind that this could happen."
When PEOPLE spoke to JCPenny, they explained that their dress code does not discriminate based on gender. "JCPenney's dress code policy for store associates prohibits the wearing of shorts of any length. This policy applies to both male and female associates. We have reached out to the associate who blogged about this policy, but she has not returned our telephone calls thus far."
Stoel claims to have not known about the no shorts rule.
"They never said 'no shorts' at orientation. I never even got a handbook or anything. The manager was asked, and she said, no tank tops, spaghetti straps, absolutely no denim, and no T-shirts. And when asked for clarification she said, nothing that you're falling out of. So I thought, 'I'm not falling out of these shorts.' "
If there is indeed a 'no shorts' policy, that is how it should have been addressed. When Stoel was sent home, she should have been told at that very moment that she was being sent home because the dress code says 'no shorts.' Her response would indicate that she was not told this.
I think we do need to ask the tough questions here. Do dress codes unfairly target women? These policies often prohibit 'revealing' clothing. No excessive cleavage, no tanks, no spaghetti straps, no short dresses/shorts/skirts. Well, men, generally, don't worry about these things (although these polices do also often target facial hair, piercings and tattoos -- which can be an issue for men for sure). It can be argued that it is women's fashion that makes it appear as though women are the censored aim of these rules. Our clothes are made that way, men's are not.
But, why are these items of clothing inappropriate at work? I've heard it been said that these items are 'distracting.' To whom? Are men and boys so weak minded that they can't function around the sight of cleavage? I like to think they can handle themselves. I'm a large busted woman. I can, and often do cover up, but I sometimes have cleavage in clothing that isn't built to show cleavage, if you know what I mean. Should I get in trouble for something that is solely related to how I'm built?
Why are men never asked to take responsibility for their responses? Should we not be raising our boys to be respectful. Yes, there are parts of a woman's body that triggers a biological sexual response. I get it. But those things exist for women too. Have you ever noticed how tight business suits have become? I certainly have. And guess what, I might sneak a peak at a well clad derrière but I go on with my day. It doesn't render me unable to function and it certainly doesn't do anything to drop my productivity. Why are these policies not addressing this issue? Surely it isn't any different. I went to a Catholic high school. Kilt length was often up for discussion but I didn't hear a whole lot of talk aimed at the boys and how they could be more respectful.
I do understand that there are certain pieces of attire that are inappropriate in certain situations. I wouldn't wear a midriff baring halter top to a funeral, for example. I also probably wouldn't wear it to work. But should everything stop if I do? Hell no.
The rules are so muddy these days that a pair of shorts, purchased at JCPenny -- in their women's career department, no less -- is deemed inappropriate for work by JCPenny.
Like that makes any sense...
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